- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 22, 2001

It is business as usual today, from sea to shining sea. The all-American Thanksgiving is alive and well very well, in fact.
Oh, there are some subtle changes here and there. New York's big Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning includes two vintage character balloons now very much in keeping with reinvented sensibilities. "Toy Soldier," which last floated above Fifth Avenue in 1950, and "Harold the Fireman," last seen in 1948, have been taken out of mothballs and are now featured headliners.
Pollsters, meanwhile, report that America has put its wagons in the proverbial circle.
Manhattan-based Rebecca McPheeters reveals that 72 percent of us "appreciate family and friends more than ever," while 71 percent say we feel the need "to make every day count."
Fox News reports a new national fierceness.
In a survey released earlier this week, the cable channel reported that 97 percent of us would be willing "to fight and die to protect our immediate family from death," 82 percent would take up arms to protect their hometown from attack and another 57 percent vowed they would be willing to "protect President Bush" from harm.
Meanwhile, old-fashioned, unabashed, guilt-free comfort food is the focus at the table. According to culinary experts who chart the national appetite, few of us feel compelled to take the lean and sensible route down the menu this year. The average calorie intake at day's end may hit 4,000 as we wallow blissfully amidst carbohydrates and beloved family members.
But it is so glorious.
The dinner itself has become the source of much creative prose in a press weary of war news this week.
Gravy, observed one New York Times writer, is "the heart and soul of the dinner, a unifying force," and the Christian Science Monitor went to the U.S. Census to determine how many towns across the country were named "Turkey." There are 11 three in Kansas alone though Turkey, Texas, is the "most populous of the bird's namesakes, with 494 residents," the Monitor noted.
The collective need to gather together for something savory and reassuring is so great that two news services offered a "pre-Thanksgiving dinner plan" this week for those who wanted to sit down and eat together as a kind of dress rehearsal for the main event.
Odes to mother's best china, grandmother's cookbook, dueling pie recipes, heirloom tablecloths, beloved turkey platters and the glories of leftovers are rampant.
"Even as we are eating Thanksgiving dinner, my husband is planning tomorrow's sandwich, noted an Atlanta Constitution writer, who devoted several paragraphs to the finer points of such things suitable condiments, the dilemma of hot versus cold sandwiches and the proper construction of each.
"The key is layering with moisture-laden components," she solemnly stated.
America can rest assured that round-the-clock cooking advice hot lines guard the sanctity of our kitchens as the holiday season gets under way. Betty Crocker, Butterball Turkey, Land-o-Lakes, Ocean Spray and Reynolds are among a dozen companies that offer phone counseling for panicked, despondent or confused chefs facing down the family feast.
The D.C.-based National Turkey Foundation, incidentally, noted earlier this week that we will eat 675 million pounds of turkey today, while, the Massachusetts-based Cranberry Institute reports that we will eat 75 million pounds of the jellied sauce of the same name.
Besides the traditional ritual of football games, nostalgia rules the airwaves. Twelve- and even 24-hour TV marathons for sated cocooners include "I Love Lucy," "The Waltons," "Golden Girls," "Columbo" and old Looney Tunes cartoons, among other things. The American Movie Classics channel will air the 1947 classic "Miracle on 34th Street" three times today.
Last but not least, "I do" rules on Thanksgiving Day 2001. Across America, marriage is in. Giddy and in some cases shocked national retailers like David's Bridal, Blue Nile jewelry and Wedding World have reported an average 25 percent rise in business.
"Bridal is one of the few businesses that is doing well and totally defies economic recession and terrorism concerns," noted the Bernard's Trading Report, an industry publication.

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